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Infamous

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Douglas McGrath
Starring: Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Lee Pace, Jeff Daniels, Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis, Peter Bogdanovich, Isabella Rossellini, Juliet Stevenson, Gwyneth Paltrow
Released by: Warner Independent Pictures

In Short: Exploring the same topic as last year's “Capote,” this version suffers by comparison, despite great acting and a slightly different take on the subject.

Seeing Double
Another Take on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood?
by Jenny Peters

In Hollywood, as in life, timing is often everything. Had “Infamous” hit theaters before last year's acclaimed film “Capote,” we might have received it better. If you have seen “Capote” and Philip Seymour Hoffman's lead performance in the title role, which won him virtually every lead acting award last year, “Infamous” simply seems like a well-acted rehash, despite the fact that both were shot at the same time. “Infamous,” which tells the same story of the events in author Truman Capote’s life that led to his writing the seminal true-crime book In Cold Blood, was held back from theaters last year in an attempt to avoid the inevitable comparison, but that strategy has not helped much.

There are certainly some bright spots in “Infamous,” starting with Gwyneth Paltrow's inspired torch song á la Peggy Lee that opens the film. She's just grand, and should sing more often.

The triumvirate of Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis and Juliet Stevenson as famed New York socialites/fashion icons Babe Paley, Slim Keith and Diana Vreeland is a formidable one, with Isabella Rossellini adding to the fine mix as Marella Agnelli. All give inspired, elegant performances, but Stevenson’s is deserving of an end-of-the-year award.

She's being overshadowed, however, by the push to get an Oscar nomination for Sandra Bullock, who plays Capote’s best friend, To Kill a Mockingbird novelist Nelle Harper Lee. Considering that Catherine Keener beat her to that nomination last year for the same role in “Capote,” it doesn’t seem very likely, despite the understated plainness of Bullock's performance.

Toby Jones is also fine as Capote himself, but this version seems more superficial somehow than the earlier movie, perhaps because of the strong focus on his New York socialite life. And just how many different ways can the story of two ex-cons who murder a whole family on a remote Kansas farm be told? Not too many, and numerous scenes play out in eerie similarity to what has come before.

If you missed “Capote” last year, you might just want to check out “Infamous.” It is a solidly told drama based on a true story with a number of good performances, which is certainly better than a lot of movies out there in the multiplex these days.



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